Illinois Hairstylists Now Required To Report Domestic Abuse

hair stylist at workHistorically, barbershops and beauty salons–especially those in the Black community–have been a safe place for conversation, bonding and open talk where patrons reveal their triumphs, trials and troubles even if those trouble deal with domestic violence.

Now, Illinois beauty professionals will be required to recognize the signs of domestic abuse.

Under the new measure signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner last summer, the state’s 88,000 licensed beauty professionals must take an hourlong course designed to teach them to recognize signs of domestic violence and ways to address it. Stylists will be required to complete the course while applying for a new license, and then as an additional hour added to the 14 hours of continuing education required for license renewal every two years. The law includes barbers, cosmetologists, aestheticians, hair braiders and nail technicians and will be enforced by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois is the first state to adopt such a mandate, according to Illinois state Rep. Fran Hurley, who sponsored the bill that led to an amendment in the Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Hair Braiding and Nail Technology Act of 1985. Hurley and other legislators worked closely with Chicago Says No More, a nonprofit organization that works to combat domestic violence and sexual assault, to develop the law.

“There’s an openness, a freeness, a relationship that last years or decades between the client and the cosmetologist,” Hurley said. “They’re in a position to see something that may or may not be right.”

Although the new law does not require stylists to report incidents to authorities, advocates hope the training will ultimately help lower incidents of domestic violence by making more people conscious of the problem, and offering victims one more place they can turn for help, especially when many do not seek help from authorities.

According to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, there were 103,546 domestic violence offenses reported to law enforcement in Illinois in 2015. That’s up from 99,795 offenses reported the year before.

And from July 1, 2015, to this past June, there were 49 domestic violence-related deaths in Illinois, including three children, according to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence.